Archaeological history trail will be added to new estate

Karen Waggott, with twin boys, Jamie, left, and Luke, six, who launched the petition for an archaeological trail on the Great Western Park estate

Karen Waggott, with twin boys, Jamie, left, and Luke, six, who launched the petition for an archaeological trail on the Great Western Park estate

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by

A CAMPAIGNER has welcomed moves to mark historic finds at the site of a planned Didcot housing estate.

Information boards will go up at Great Western Park to the south west of the town after finds dating back 9,000 years were unearthed.

Work on the 3,300-home estate began in 2011 and uncovered a medieval horse burial, 10 Iron Age-era roundhouses and a Roman villa. Finds are being analysed by Oxford Archaeology.

The Oxford Times:

  • A late Roman flagon

A petition with 1,200 signatures had called on house builder Taylor Wimpey to add a “archaeological trail” to the site. It has agreed to implement on.

The petition was launched by MacDonald Close mum-of-two Karen Waggott, who hopes it is the start of more education initiatives.

The graphic designer, 42, said: “The site was crammed full of archaeology, it is really interesting stuff that tells the whole story of Didcot.

“People imagine Didcot is brand new – it gets written off as not having any history which is just not true.”

She urged the developer – who has not finalised plans – to ensure the boards refer to one another so people can tour the site.

The Oxford Times:

  • Oxford Archaeology project manager Steve Lawrence with an early neolithic bowl from the dig at Great Western Park development, Didcot

She said: “Without a properly planned trail and information boards people wouldn’t know they were there, they would be lost.”

Taylor Wimpey owns the site but parts have been sold to developers like David Wilson and Persimmon.

South Oxfordshire District Council has given planning permission for 3,300 homes but more detailed plans will need approval as it is developed.

She said: “With all the smaller planning applications coming in for different parts of the site we are worried that without a history trail being written into the plans it won’t happen.”

Andy Cattermole, Taylor Wimpey spokesman for the Great Western Park Consortium, said: “We fully support the implementation of the history trail.

“The master plan for Great Western Park accommodates the proposals for the archaeology to be positively represented on site, and includes a trail and the marking of the location of a Roman villa with landscaping, seating and an information board. It has also been suggested four other points of interest along the trail are marked with information boards – the Neolithic bowl; Mesolithic site, Neolithic pits and Iron Age hillcrest settlement; as close as feasible to the Bronze Age settlement and pond barrow, Roman and Iron Age enclosures and track; late Iron Age and Roman farm.”

The Oxford Times:

  • Mr Lawrence with a jar section

Mr Cattermole added: “The county archaeologist has advised that it will take until 2015 at the earliest, to fully identify the exact period and the significance of the archaeological finds at Great Western Park.

“Once this has been confirmed, there will be a period of community engagement to help finalise exactly what the trail will comprise.”

The artefacts are being analysed, restored, cleaned and preserved by Oxford Archaeology.

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